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SECURITY > Okinawa

Okinawan citizens to sue governor for making speech at UN Human Rights Council in 2015

  • November 19, 2017
  • , Sankei , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

Five members of the “association to demand the reform of Okinawa’s administration,” a voluntary group of Okinawan citizens, will file a case at the Naha District Court against Governor Takeshi Onaga on Nov. 21 on the grounds that he made a speech at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2015 in his capacity as “governor of Okinawa” even though he was not qualified to participate in the meeting, and that it was improper to treat this as part of his official duties. The plaintiffs will demand the refund of some 960,000 yen paid out of public funds (for travel and accommodation expenses, per diem, and other expenses) to the Okinawa Prefectural Government.


Onaga emphasized the concentration of U.S. military bases in Okinawa in his speech at the UN panel and asserted that “the (Okinawan) people’s right of self-determination and human rights are being violated.” He indicated his resolve to stop the relocation of the Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan City) to Henoko, Nago City.


According to the Foreign Ministry, this was the first time for a Japanese local leader to speak at the UN Human Rights Council, and Onaga was not qualified to do so because only the following people are allowed to speak at the council: 1) representatives of non-member states of the council, 2) representatives of international organizations; and 3) representatives of NGOs recognized by the UN Economic and Social Council to be qualified to participate in the council’s proceedings.


Onaga was able to speak under category 3 by taking over the speaker slot given to the Citizens’ Diplomatic Center for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (led by Keisen University Prof. Hideaki Uemura), an NGO campaigning for the recognition of Okinawans as indigenous people. A source close to the plaintiffs pointed out that “the expenses should be borne by the NGO or by Onaga.”


Sankei Shimbun requested the disclosure of official documents on this matter with the Okinawan government in August. The documents show that some 1.31 million yen spent for the secretary and interpreter who accompanied Onaga was also paid out of taxpayer money. The plaintiffs plan to demand the refund of this amount as well.

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